Well, I've spent a week away from sharp objects, reading as much about John Roberts' decision as I could, and listening to as many opinions as I could stand. Here's mine.
We are less free, less prosperous, and probably more equal. Liberals like that trade-off; conservatives not so much.
Reagan was right: "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same." Freedom is also not secure in the Constitution if the federal government can punish inaction and force employers to purchase insurance for their employees with provisions which they find morally offensive. It really doesn't matter whether it is the Commerce Clause or taxing power. The Supreme Court has said that it is OK, and it is up to the people to protect themselves. Message received.
The first line of attack for repeal is the one that appeals to libertarians. My sadness is not so much with Justice Roberts as it is with the American people who, it would seem, are well down the road to accepting government power over the details of their lives in exchange for a promise that everybody will be taken care of, regardless of personal responsibility. Even in the Bay Area - a haven for liberals, but also the center of anti-government convulsions of the 60s - there is not a word about the loss of freedom. This decision will eliminate any question of whether the 2010 election was a "one-time wave" by galvanizing the Tea Party and the lingering Ron Paul supporters, but that won't win Ohio.
The central line of attack must merge ObamaCare and the ongoing economic malaise - and it is easy to do. Despite the wasteful trillion dollar stimulus and unprecedented Federal Reserve activism, we remain with high unemployment three years after the "Bush Recession" officially ended. The difference from past recoveries? Obamacare's crushing trillion cost and uncertainty for business. The economic issue isn't the relatively modest "individual mandate tax" or even the trillion dollars of other taxes on the public; the larger problem is the smothering regulations and costs imposed on employers. Who would think that we could insure 30 million people without addressing the major cost drivers in our healthcare system and place the burden on employers without substantial economic damage?
But repeal alone won't win Ohio. Fortunately Governor Romney has a good start on the "Replace" content, even if the presentation needs improvement. From his website and many speeches:
1. Restore state leadership and flexibility: "block grant" Medicaid; limit "one size fits all" federal standards for insurance coverage requirements; foster exchanges and high risk pools.
2. Promote free markets: cap medical malpractice suits; promote purchasing pools for individuals and small businesses; protect people with pre-existing conditions who have had continuous coverage; facilitate IT.
3. Empower consumer choice: allow purchase across state lines; allow consumers to purchase insurance with pre-tax dollars (move away from the employer - dominated model); explore alternatives to the "fee for service" model; expand "Consumer Reports"-type ratings to inform consumers.
Romney will not get much media help in explaining that he has a plan, but he will have a billion dollars to speak directly to the voters and he starts with a strong majority of voters still favoring repeal. He will need some tweaks - if people want insurance plans that keep their kids on until age 26, insurance companies can amortize that - but he knows this territory. The only challenge is to be sure that the voters understand that this isn't separate from the message on the economy. It is at the heart of the economic problem.
Despite Obama's outlandish claims, the people can be trusted to understand.
For those looking for something simpler and more important than Chief Justice Roberts' finding, here is a simple discussion of the Higgs boson, whose recent discovery at CERN is sure to lead to a few Nobel prizes in theoretical physics, as well as a complete explanation of the universe.
bill bowen - 7/5/12